Improving Health Care for Seniors in 10 Steps
Today man seniors are choosing to age in place, often from the comfort of their own homes, for as long as they can. Aging at home is seen as a better alternative to moving over to a retirement home or some long-term care facility. However, aging in place only makes sense for people who need minor assistance primarily with their daily activities and have a close network of friends and family members. Also, they should be able to make use of home care services.
Fortunately, today there are numerous home health care services available that assist seniors when it comes to aging in place. While not all services are equal, it is essential to make sure that services improve the care seniors receive. In this article, we’ll look at a few things that many home health care service providers can and should do to improve the care their senior patients receive.
Help the Elderly Engage in Outside or Outdoor Activity
Seniors like everyone else should be spending some time outdoors. However, unlike anyone else, they may often need assistance and motivation. A few minutes walk outside twice or thrice a day is therapeutic and improves the quality of life for a senior citizen. It also helps with digestion, depression, and if they walk in bright sunlight, it helps the body produce more vitamin D.
Ideally, depending on where the elderly are housed, home health care providers can take them to the nearest park. Seniors should be encouraged to participate in activities like walking, swimming (if they can), or jogging. The more activity, the better mainly because it has so many benefits.
Take Steps to Improve Safety Via Organization
It is important for a home care professional to work towards creating order or organization inside the home. Sections can be labeled to help elders navigate through their homes more efficiently and, in some cases, safely. However, labeling is just one aspect of organization. A few other aspects include note-keeping for those suffering from the early onset of dementia, ensuring that a routine is maintained for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
A home safety company can be called to perform a safety assessment that rules out any risks in the home. If anything, it will help to improve a person’s anxiety when trying to work in the home. Even something as simple as doing the laundry can become challenging for older people. That’s why this is a huge part of improving their quality of life while making them feel as though they don’t have to depend on someone to function. In fact, many seniors can do a lot in their homes if things are organized, and they understand how everything works.
Get the Best In-home Care
Anyone who is in charge of hiring in-home care for their elderly parents, guardians, or anyone else should focus on hiring the very best professionals or company for the job. It is important to interview several candidates before hiring one. Also, give the caregiver as much information as you can about the elderly person in question, including their activities, hobbies, interests, etc.
You will also want to check in with the caregiver as frequently as possible to ensure that there is progress made in the way of helping the person in question. A calendar at home can be used to mark all appointments, family visits, and caregiver visits. It should be an easy system to follow so that the elderly person in question can also use it.
Invite a Geriatric Care Manager Over
A geriatric care manager can be of immense help when it comes to developing a solid Care Plan and one for ongoing Care Management for an elderly person. The person (geriatric) is usually a licensed nurse or sometimes a social worker who mainly specializes in geriatrics, which means that they can help families identify the elderly patient’s needs and then find the best way to meet them.
Geriatric care managers are trained professionals who can help you find the resources needed to make daily life easier. They often work with families, forging a long-term relationship. These people can be especially helpful when family members are living far away or away from the elderly. However, they often check in with the elder from time to time on behalf of the family to ensure that their needs are met and that the needs haven’t changed. If needs have changed, then the care strategy may have to be modified accordingly.
Ensure Frequent Yet Coordinated Family Visits
Every elderly person is an individual, and some individuals choose to stay alone. Others have a more social outlook, drawing inspiration and energy from the people around them. The latter type of elderly person can benefit from immensely frequent visits by friends and family members.
Scheduling family visits for the elderly gives them (the elderly) some time to relax at a time that is decided to be optimal for them. Taking walks and talking is an excellent way for them to retain that much-needed connection. Sometimes cellphones by those visiting will need to be turned off. If anything, it is essential for us to slow down so that we can connect with the elderly more effectively. Also, visits give the elderly something to look forward to. It also allows caregivers to monitor the elderly for any new symptoms like memory loss. If there are issues, then further steps will need to be taken to support them. In most instances, issues spotted early make a huge difference as to how they are handled and in some cases, if needed, treated.
Help People Feel Needed and Useful
Everyone wants to feel useful and needed, so it isn’t something that’s just limited to the elderly. However, because everyone moves on with their lives and they (the elderly) sort of stay behind, the feeling is that they are not useful to anyone. That feeling of not being useful can be devastating, especially if the person in question has spent their lives working, looking after kids, and handling other matters.
One of the ways to improve their (elderly’s) quality of life is to make them feel like their help is still needed. Also, make them feel as though they are not a burden. Even if there are specific tasks that they can’t perform efficiently or perfectly, that’s fine. The important thing is that they are contributing.
You can ask them to help with your tasks like:
- Organizing the drawers
- Folding laundry
- Keeping you updated with the latest news
- Opening the mail
- Clipping coupons
- Writing grocery lists or to-do lists
- Prepping dinner by performing tasks like cutting vegetables, setting the table etc.
- Take them along to shop for groceries and run errands if their health holds up
Address Elderly Depression
Many people suffer from depression late in life. It is estimated that over 7 million people over the age of 65 suffer from depression. Often, depression is caused by something like having to retire from a job they loved or losing a spouse. However, depression can also be caused by a disease or as an adverse effect of prescription medication. Usually, it is because they (the elderly) are alone and there is nobody around.
One of the best ways to improve a person’s quality of life is to recognize signs of depression. If you notice that the older adult is depressed, seek help from a doctor, counselor, therapist, or psychologist. While it might not be possible to cure depression entirely, but if the causes of the depression are addressed, the person might recover. However, they will still need to be monitored because depression does creep back in after a while.
Every person wants to be heard. However, older people often complain that nobody sits down to listen to them, which can be one of the sources of frustration. Usually, it is because most younger people are busy with school, college, work, their family, etc. That’s why if the older adult is being ignored, it isn’t intentional, but they may take it personally.
Everybody has a story to tell, and as someone who is caring for the elderly, it pays to listen. Having the ability to sit down and listen, to discuss if possible, is very important when it comes to improving the quality of life for an older person. Active listening also encourages the increase of rapport, allowing caregivers to pick up on potential warning signs if there is trouble.
It is important to make eye contact when having a conversation with a client. Turn your body towards the person who is speaking with you. However, you will want to be careful not to interrupt and ask lots of questions. Questions are important because it shows that you are hearing and respecting them.
Do What They Love
While you always want to follow the doctor’s orders and make sure that the elderly are taken care of with the right food and activity, you also need to do what they love. Often, caregivers, both professional and otherwise, overlook what the elderly love doing, eating, or listening to. All of these are essential considerations that shouldn’t be overlooked.
For instance, do you have a patient who enjoys reading but can’t do so anymore because they have impaired vision or they have a brain-related issue? Perhaps the person you are looking after enjoys solving puzzles, playing board games, and scrapbooking. Regardless of what they may enjoy doing, you need to make a concerted and honest effort to engage with them. The more you engage with them, the better.
In addition to helping the elderly feel more involved and capable, the activities can help decrease feelings of distress. It also helps encourage positive changes in their behavior. If anything, these steps go a very long way to improving their quality of life.
Quality Care Matters
We can tell you from experience that the quality of care the elderly receive matter a great deal. In fact, every effort should be made to ensure that the elderly receive the best possible care that money can buy.
However, equally important is that the caregiver creates as much fun and beauty in the life of the elderly patient. You can have flowers, music, some dancing, movies, etc. All of these practices will help cut through the depression and issues that the elderly patient may be dealing with often regularly.
You will also want to make sure that their medications, food, and other aspects of their lives are well organized, which means that they can continue to enjoy themselves as opposed to only be fixated on their symptoms. In other words, they should be something for them to look forward to. A new activity each day that brings fun and love into the equation helping the elderly remain healthy physically and mentally.
Final Thoughts on Improving Health Care for Seniors
One of the most important aspects of caring for the elderly is respect. Respect matters a great deal, regardless of the person you are working with and their condition. When a caregiver is respectful to the person’s home, preferences, choices, and belongings, the patient will return that respect. Also, it makes them feel less distressed and helps them relax. Make sure that respect is practiced actively. If you make a mistake, apologize and explain why that will not happen again. It may come across as a tedious practice, but it is an important one.
Working with the elderly is understandably challenging. Also, everybody is different. However, with some active effort, it’s possible to raise the quality of care provided.